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Cognition, Technology & Work

, Volume 17, Issue 2, pp 179–183 | Cite as

Broken components versus broken systems: why it is systems not people that lose situation awareness

  • Paul M. SalmonEmail author
  • G. H. Walker
  • N. A. Stanton
Original Article

Abstract

This commentary is a response to Dekker’s insightful article in this issue on situation awareness (SA). This is a concept that continues to excite strong debate but only because of the profound implications for the theoretical foundations and the effects that different approaches have for the work of human factors practitioners. We argue that Dekker’s paper tacitly adopts one approach to SA, and in doing so will inevitably arrive at the point of questioning the concept in its entirety. If SA really is as deterministic and ‘broken component’ orientated as Dekker describes, then we would be in complete agreement, but instead we offer a counterpoint. We apply our distributed situation awareness approach to the key issues raised, answer all of Dekker’s concerns, and offer a useful way forward.

Keywords

Situation awareness Safety Accident analysis 

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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag London 2015

Authors and Affiliations

  • Paul M. Salmon
    • 1
  • G. H. Walker
    • 2
  • N. A. Stanton
    • 3
  1. 1.Faculty of Arts and Business, School of Social SciencesUniversity of the Sunshine Coast Accident Research (USCAR)MaroochydoreAustralia
  2. 2.School of the Built EnvironmentHeriot-Watt UniversityEdinburghUK
  3. 3.Civil, Maritime, Environmental Engineering and Science, Faculty of Engineering and the EnvironmentUniversity of SouthamptonHighfield, SouthamptonUK

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